The Australian Government's Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific region, launched by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on 8 October 2017, contributes to the avoidance and containment of infectious disease threats with the potential to cause social and economic harms on a national, regional or global scale.
Australia's 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper emphasises the active and ambitious part that Australia will play in responding to regional and global challenges. Prominent among these is the challenge of building our region's resilience to health security challenges.
The Indo-Pacific has been a source region for several emerging infectious diseases this century. It is also a site of growing antimicrobial drug resistance with respect to high-burden diseases including tuberculosis and malaria. Australia is well placed to help countries deal with these problems at source. We have world-class domestic systems for disease surveillance and control in human and animal health and a strong track record of cooperation with the countries of the Indo-Pacific on social and economic development, including primary health care and livestock management.
With funding of AU$300 million over five years from 2017, the Health Security Initiative aims to inform evidence-based planning, help prevent avoidable epidemics, strengthen early detection capacity, and support rapid, effective national and international outbreak responses. It does this by accelerating research on new drugs and diagnostics, expanding partnerships at the national, regional and global level to strengthen human and animal health systems, and deepening people-to-people linkages that build national and regional health security capacity. Funding for the initiative is drawn from Australia's international development assistance program and applied to activities eligible to be classified as Official Development Assistance.
The Initiative is led by Australia's Ambassador for Regional Health Security and implemented by the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security. The Centre, located in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, brings together expertise from relevant Australian government agencies and is advised by a distinguished Technical Reference Group. From time to time, the Centre will also invite experts from the Indo-Pacific region to undertake fixed-term placements at the Centre in order to advise on specific issues.